wild card

(operating system, programming, text)   (From card games in which certain cards, often the joker, can act as any other card) A special character or character sequence which matches any character in a string comparison, like ellipsis ("...") in ordinary written text.

In Unix filenames '?' matches any single character and '*' matches any zero or more characters. In regular expressions, '.' matches any one character and "[...]" matches any one of the enclosed characters.

See also Backus-Naur Form.

Last updated: 1997-07-16